On October 15, members of Laramie’s DECA chapter competed at their first conference this year. MEC (Marketing and Entrepreneurship Conference) was held at the University of Wyoming and was a preliminary competition for the DECA members.

“DECA is an entrepreneurship and marketing organization so it’s really focused on building leadership skills and being able to solve problems quickly, and also building upon your public speaking skills and putting yourself in different situations and trying to solve those situations,” Alhena Islam, a member of Laramie’s DECA chapter, said.

At DECA conferences, students are judged on their ability to apply real world leadership and public speaking skills to hypothetical situations that relate to their category.

DECA competitions are split into two levels. When students first join the chapter, they compete as principle members, against students from other schools in the same level. Once students gain more experience, they can move up to the advanced level and compete against other, more experienced students.

According to Islam, MEC is more aimed towards introducing principle members to the competition, although advanced students also compete.

Before conferences or at the conference, competitors take a test on one of five clusters; finance, business management and administration, marketing, hospitality and tourism, and entrepreneurship. Then the members participate in role play related to their category.

The role play section of the competition begins with preparation time. This is usually 10 minutes for individual events and 20 for partner events. During this time, students are given a sheet of paper which lists the “21st Century Skills,” and other criteria that competitors are judged on.

The skills judges look for include leadership and speaking quality, and the criteria are ideas related to the category that competitors must incorporate into their role playing. The students are also given a description of the situation they are role playing in.

“At the conference they told us they needed to increase sales on Mondays and Tuesdays … so since it was a discount retailer, how can we market towards lower income families to increase sales” Islam said.

Some larger conferences have multiple rounds of competition, where the best students from the first round advance to finals, and the places are decided by performance in finals.

The chapter will travel to Scottsbluff, Nebraska on November 5 for a conference, then to the state competition in February.

Competitors who place in the top three in their category at state qualify for internationals. Both advanced and principle members can compete at Internationals.

The DECA adult sponsor at LHS is Julie Masters, a vocational teacher at the high school.

“I think DECA is an awesome chapter, it’s really fun, it builds a lot of career skills that you can use in the future, especially your public speaking skills,” Islam said.